Somerset plan summer campaign at Spanish training camp

BadgeThe Somerset squad set off early on Wednesday for Desert Springs in south east Spain where they are taking part in a pre-season training camp.

Director of Cricket Matt Maynard explained the purpose of the trip which is a key part of preparations for the new season.

Maynard said: “This is very much a transition in terms of the cricket so we are working from indoors to outdoors. It’s not cricket all day every day, it’s about letting the players get to know each other better in a more relaxed environment.

“The main aim of the trip is to get the guys not only to discuss what values they see a great Somerset side showing, but what are the true values of the team. Then we will be talking about our game plan and they need to follow those values, and these need to be nicely aligned. We will be concentrating on four-day and T20 cricket in those plans because the One Day competition is too far away.

“This will allow me to put players into roles. I have already spoken to them and we need to decide how we are going to go about it because we can’t play the same bowlers all the time, so we need to put plans in place to enable us to do this. We will be doing this in a nice relaxed atmosphere. There’s a golf course there and we will do some bike riding, so we will be doing a lot of team stuff.

“At the back end of the trip we have a clear focus of what we are trying to achieve before we go to a 100% focus on our game plans on our return. We are scheduled to start our outdoor nets on Monday March 16 and Simon Lee, our head groundsman tells me that everything is going to plan.”

Maynard added: “It will be great to get out to Spain to start the process and the more time the boys can spend on grass the better it is for both the batsmen and the bowlers.”

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Craig Overton on the road to recovery

The good news is that Craig Overton is making a good recovery from the ankle surgery he had in early February and was able to join the rest of his Somerset team mates on the plane to Spain yesterday.

Talking at the County Ground earlier this week, the 20 year old all-rounder, who enjoyed his best ever season in 2014 said: “Things are going along very nicely for me and I started running again last week on the Ultra Gravity machine at 40 Commando. Now I have built that up and I am running at 90% of my body weight so I’m getting there.

“I’m really looking forward to going out to Spain with the rest of the squad and it will be great to get back out in the sun again. Hopefully I will be running and starting to bowl on the grass, which is what we all want to do, and get ready for the season.”

Twin brother Jamie, who has recently returned from three weeks with the ECB Potential Emerging Player programme, has also made the trip to Spain.

Craig said: “Last year Jamie didn’t have a good year and I did, while the previous season he did well and I didn’t as I had a stress fracture.”

Craig added: “It will be nice for us both to be fully fit together and sharing the bowling duties, so we will have to see what we can do this summer!”

One player who has already been to Desert Springs this year is batsman-keeper Alex Barrow, who joined up with the Tom Maynard Academy there last month under the tutelage of Matt and a coaching team including wicket-keeper Paul Nixon.

Alfonso Thomas also took part in the Academy as part of his rehabilitation from a broken ankle and to do some coaching.

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Somerset welcome Allenby for the trip to Spain

Travelling with the Somerset team for the first time this week is new winter signing Jim Allenby, who has joined the club from Glamorgan.

Allenby has been in Australia since October where he has been coaching and captaining a club in Perth in Western Australia 1 grade cricket who went on to win the state T20 competition.

Speaking before he left for Spain, Allenby said: “It’s great to be here in Taunton and although I only arrived a couple of days ago my first impressions are extremely positive.

“I knew to expect good things, having played against Somerset in the past but it’s great to be on the right side now and it all feels very exciting.

“I can’t wait to get started with the bunch of extremely talented players that there is at the club. I feel very positive about what I have seen and I’m really pleased to be here.”

Where does Allenby see himself fitting into the Somerset side? “I am not too sure exactly,” he said. “I guess we will start to find out over the next few days. Hopefully I might be batting more and bowling less than I have over the last couple of seasons which would be nice. Basically I want to be able to add something to the players who are already here.

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“Somerset have already got some excellent, high performing players so I feel if I can come in and add to that then it’s great. Whether it’s batting, bowling or in the field, I feel I can offer something in all departments. I’m pretty flexible and will do what is required to try and win a few more games of cricket. I haven’t come with an idea of batting or bowling anywhere in particular, I’m just wanting to contribute to some wins and enjoy it along the way.”

Local supporters will no doubt remember Jim for the performances that he has produced playing against Somerset about which he said: “The last couple of years I have done quite well here at Taunton. I’ve always liked playing here and the atmosphere around the ground is great. There’s a real buzz here on a Friday night or a Sunday afternoon. It’s been fantastic and I have loved playing here. I feel comfortable batting and bowling out there and I’m sure the more I play here the better that feeling will become. It’s exciting for me to be hopefully supported rather than heckled by the crowds here in Taunton!”

This is the second club where Allenby has played under Matt Maynard, a man he rates extremely highly.

He explained: “I moved to Glamorgan in 2009 to play under Matt and loved it, as I’m sure the guys here will too. It’s hard work but you have got to enjoy yourself as well, which is Matt’s approach and mine as well so I think the guys here will enjoy that. Matt is the best around and for us to have the opportunity to work with him is going to benefit us all.”

Looking ahead Allenby said: “I am now here in Taunton full time and looking forward to playing in as many games as possible, form and fitness allowing and I have got no other commitments for the next three years and hopefully longer.”

Allenby is looking forward to spending time with the rest of the squad in Spain this week. He said: “It will be great to be going out to Spain with the rest of the boys and it’s not too far to go.

“Personally I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone a little bit better. I have played against lots of them in the past but now it will be great to play alongside them. I am really excited to get out there and play cricket and get to know people.”

He added: “We are going to have a lot of time together out in the field for Somerset over the summer and before that I’m look forward to getting to know everyone while we are in Spain.”

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Max ready to start training outdoors

Also looking forward to the Spanish training camp was leg spinner Max Waller.

The 27-year-old said: “It’s been a long winter indoors so it’ll be nice to get outdoors now and work on the grass ready for the season.

“To go to Spain is different to what we have done in the past but the guys who went last week have all said that it was brilliant, with good facilities and some nice weather so it will be good to get out in the sunshine. It makes a big difference.”

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Talking about his cricket Max said: “I am looking forward to the start of the season now and just want it to start. My bowling has gone well this winter so like everybody else I’m looking forward to getting going again.

“It will be great to get out on the grass to face bowlers and bowl at batters. It’s so different to bowling and batting inside so this is just the right time to be going away and everybody is ready for it.”

Max added: “Working indoors is good for basics and getting things done in the winter, but after Christmas you start to feel like you want to get outside.

“Being away together for a week or so is a good thing and will help us to get a good vibe going ready for the season. I think that there is a bit of golf arranged as well on a nice course, so I can’t wait to be out there!”